Info-tech

Microsoft plans big AI push in India

Venkatesh Ganesh Bengaluru | Updated on January 16, 2019 Published on January 16, 2019

Aims to skill 5 lakh people, set up labs in universities

Microsoft aims to skill 5 lakh youth, which includes 10,000 developers in artificial intelligence (AI) and set up labs in 10 universities, as it seeks to broaden its AI push in India.

The Redmond-based technology giant is working with stakeholders across public and private sectors, civil society and academia in the country to create the right conditions for human-focused AI. Microsoft is attempting to do this with government and private companies, around 700 in number at present.

Meetul Patel, COO, Microsoft India told BusinessLine that India is at a tipping point in AI. “The growth of start-ups in this segment, coupled with availability of technology and talent, will help India to compete in the future.”

Microsoft believes that development of talent is vital for economic growth, and is working to skill individuals across demographics to succeed in an AI-enabled world. Microsoft also recently announced the Intelligent Cloud Hub Program, to equip research and higher education institutions with AI infrastructure, build curriculum, and help both faculty and students to build skill-sets in cloud computing, data sciences, AI and Internet of Things (IoT).

One such example is the work of start-up Gaia smart cities. “We are using sensors that can from the detection of ammonia levels find out whether the toilet is clean,” said founder Bipin Pradeep Kumar. The start-up has used sensors in toilets across India as a part of Swachh Bharat initiative.

In another case, BPO companies’ consumers who contact them — through social media, chat, email, text, or over the phone — will receive personalised experiences based on past interactions, allowing customer service representatives to access information between platforms. “Every year, the experiences people have with business are becoming more personalised and tailored. Consumers increasingly want digital and intuitive self-serve support options on the channels that they prefer to use, and they challenge businesses to deliver,” said Alla Reznik, director of customer experience, global products and services, Verizon.

Further, Microsoft is taking the help of 715 partners to go to market in India to help customers design and implement AI and boost employee productivity.

Industry body Nasscom has also identified AI as one of the emerging areas, and has set up a centre that focusses on using AI to further social inclusion with the Karnataka government.

While AI is making inroads across all walks of life, it is seeing a huge pushback from several quarters, due to technology making several jobs redundant or increase privacy and biases within the system. On the issue of jobs, some in the industry such as Rachit Jain, CEO, Youth4work believes that it will create and not take jobs. “It is like saying manufacturing more medicines will result in doctors to lose business,” he said.

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Published on January 16, 2019
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